Archive for the ‘Pakistan’ tag
by Sabur Ali Sayyid
from Common Ground News Service
Islamabad – Hunched on the floor of Gurdwara Sis Ganj, a Sikh temple in New Delhi, Khurshid Ahmad Khan, Pakistan’s Deputy Attorney General, earnestly polished the shoes of devotees flocking to him either in delight or amazement. To him, polishing shoes served as penance for the brutal killing of a Sikh man at the hands of the Taliban two years prior in Pakistan. Engaging in this lowly act, for him, relieved the burden on his conscience about the problems that minorities face in his region. He believes they deserve a better life, free of intimidation and coercion.
Some may disagree with Khan’s philosophy of redemption. Khan, himself a Muslim, took time out during his visit to India to shine the shoes of devotees at places of worship, regardless of whether they were Sikh houses of worship or Hindu temples. In doing so, he wanted to show his respect for humanity and for other religions.
No one would dispute the fact that communal harmony in South Asia – particularly in India and Pakistan, where each year a large number of people are killed in the name of religion – is far from satisfactory. And no significant progress can take place in this area unless it is backed by the introduction of a multipronged approach to bring about greater communal harmony.
The genesis of Hinduism and Sikhism lies in South Asia. It has been welcoming to Muslims, Christians and people of other faiths, such as Jainism, Taoism and Shintoism. Peaceful coexistence has been a hallmark of this region. Though there have been instances of great strife, this tradition of coexistence is equally a part of the region’s history.
By Rick Westhead
from Toronto Star
BASTI MAHRAN, PAKISTAN—A single act of kindness, profound because it was so rare and unexpected, transformed this sun-bleached village in a remote corner of the Punjab.
A Hindu man gave his blood to save the life of a Muslim woman who had lost too much in childbirth.
In the seven years since, the 1,600 Muslims and 1,400 Hindus in this town live in peaceful co-existence, extraordinary because sectarian violence has marked the histories of Pakistan and India since the bloody partition of 1947.
“I was afraid, for sure. But it was the right thing to do,” says Bachu Ram, the blood donor. He is smoking a cigarette in the home of a Muslim village elder, who once was so steeped in hatred that he led the charge on the clinic to take Ram’s life.
Hatred and violence once defined life in Basti Mahran. Muslim men routinely raped Hindu girls — “we would have 20 cases a year,” says one local. Muslim men beat Hindus with sticks and fists, seemingly with tacit approval of the local police. Cattle belonging to Hindu families were slaughtered if they strayed too close to Muslim homes.
Mahar Abdul Latif, the host who now pours Ram tea, spent three years during the late 1990s as a member of the extremist religious group Jaish-e-Mohammad. He patrolled the rugged mountain passes and valleys of Kashmir, a region claimed both by India and Pakistan, killing Hindus when they crossed his path.
“I have done much I am ashamed of,” says Latif, a 37-year-old father of three. “But we are friends now. Our kids are friends, too. They study and play together.”
from Daily Times
Interfaith harmony is the only way to get rid of the so-called war on terrorism, said IA Rehman, director of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan on Friday.
Addressing the inauguration ceremony of the national peace song at Ali Institute, IA Rehman said that the people belonging to all religions should join hands against extremism. He urged people to create interfaith harmony and ensure protection of their rights and religious freedom.
The event was organised by Giyan Foundation and Heinrich Boll Stifting. A large number of civil society activists, writers, youth and scholars were also present on the occasion. The event was followed by an Interfaith Peace Conference, which was presided over by IA Rehman while Akram Gill was the chief guest. Heinrich Böll Stiftung Country Manager Britta Peterson and Dr Arfa Syeda were also present on the occasion…
by Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy and Akbar Ahmed
from Huffington Post
Amid a surging fear of Muslims — Islamophobia — in our nation, it is time for all of us to improve our understanding of Islam and our relationships with Muslims — if not because it is right to do this morally, then because it is in our best interests nationally.
The fact is that we live in a world alongside one and a half billion Muslims, and regardless of the desire of some on the fringes of society, our Muslim neighbors are not going anywhere. A failure to understand this population and its religion is bad enough. Choosing to intentionally demonize those who follow this religion and provoke the anger of the Muslim people qualifies not just as insensibility but insanity.
From The Daily Times
ISLAMABAD: The participants of a seminar on Sunday urged all patriotic citizens and leaders belonging to various faiths to join hands for interfaith harmony in order to defeat the anti-state elements.
In a resolution passed unanimously, they condemned the prevalent terrorists activities, against the non-Muslims in particular, and called upon the authorities to nip this trend in the bud to protect the rights of minorities all over the country.
Ministry of Minorities Affairs in collaboration with The Interfaith Council for Peace and Harmony (ICPH) organised the conference titled ‘National Interfaith Peace Conference’ at a local hotel to promote interfaith coexistence.
Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti presided over the function.
The resolutions said Pakistan was a peaceful country and all efforts would be made for the social security of minorities and the elements destabilizing the law and order should be taken to task. “We condemn terror related activities in particular against non-Muslims in Faisalabad, Lahore and everywhere and demand that the government arrest the killers of Iftikhar Gilani’s son,” the resolution said.
The resolution demanded complete protection to sacred places of all religions in the country. “Terrorist attacks on religious places /shrines, schools, hospitals, state institutions, offices of law-enforcement agencies, public and private buildings are the worst example of barbaric act,” it said.
From The New York Times
Hands waved overhead. Voices shouted lyrics and whooped with delight. Children were hoisted onto parents’ shoulders. In the tightly packed crowd a few dancers made room to jump. T-shirts were tossed to fans from the stage.
Yet in the songs that Abida Parveen was singing, saints were praised. They were Islamic saints, the poets and philosophers revered by Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam.
It was the first New York Sufi Music Festival, a free three-hour concert on Tuesday in Union Square, and it had music from the four provinces of Pakistan, including traditional faqirs who perform outside temples, Sufi rock and a kind of rapping from Baluchistan.
The concert was presented by a new organization called Pakistani Peace Builders, which was formed after the attempted bombing in Times Square by a Pakistani-American. The group seeks to counteract negative images of Pakistan by presenting a longtime Pakistani Islamic tradition that preaches love, peace and tolerance.